Are Your Employees Stressed?, Does Your Business Have a Chief Convincing Officer?, Turn Your Smartphone into a Desk Phone and Other Things Entrepreneurs Need to Know

Date posted: March 13, 2017

9 Things Entrepreneurs Really Need to Know

By Rieva Lesonsky

 

1—The Likes & Dislikes of Subscription Box Subscribers

Subscription boxes have become increasingly popular with consumers—but with so many choices these days, it can be hard to get them to keep subscribing. In fact, according to regular contributor Matt Zajechowski of Digital Third Coast, the average length a consumer keeps a subscription service is only 125 days.

Matt and Shorr Packaging surveyed subscription box consumers to find out more about what fuels them and how to hold their interest. Some survey highlights include:

  • Subscription box subscribers are mostly young, female, educated and single.
  • The top reason people cancel: 64% say it’s not worth the money
  • Many consumers admit to letting subscriptions continue after they’ve lost interest. Nearly half have forgotten to cancel a free trial and 55% have forgotten to cancel a subscription for the next month’s shipment.

There’s lots more information in the infographic below.

subscription

 

 

2—Men are from Mars…

There are more than 11 million women-owned businesses in the United States alone. Since the 1990s women have been starting business at a faster clip than the general startup rate—and yet women still lag male-owned businesses when it comes to raising money. The folks at 99designs surveyed entrepreneurs across the U.S., Europe and Australia and found male entrepreneurs are twice as likely to have raised $100K+ in funding than women.

A closer look at stats from the U.S. show:

  • Men start their entrepreneurial ventures at a younger age (under 35), while women are more likely to start when at age 35 and older.
  • Men are working more hours a day on their ventures. Women tend to spend more time with their families.
  • When it comes to learning, men are more likely to read books and do online research, while women are more likely to attend a class, university, or workshop
  • Both men and women say “confidence” is the most important trait for an entrepreneur. But, men are more likely to say patience is a critical trait, while more women think networking is more crucial.
  • “Finding new customers” is the biggest challenge for both women and men. For women, however, but “getting out of their comfort zone” is a bigger challenge than for men, who say “staying in business for more than 3 years” is their 2nd biggest challenge.

 

3—The State of Small Business Employment

A few months ago, the JPMorgan Chase Institute released its newest report, The Ups and Downs of Small Business Employment, focusing on the financial health of small businesses and employment challenges they continue to face. The report reveals new information about small business employment growth and the volatility small business owners experience when managing payroll expenses

According to the report most small businesses experience substantial volatility in payroll expenses. The typical small business paid $18,700 in payroll expenses a month, or 18% of all outflows for their businesses. Making their financial situation even more difficult to manage, small businesses with employees had only 18 cash buffer days, compared to 27 cash buffer days for small businesses overall.
There were 5 key findings in the report:

Finding 1: Payroll for most small employer businesses grew by less than the equivalent of one full-time employee in a calendar year, with median annualized payroll growth of 8.5 percent.

  • 36% of small employer businesses decreased their payroll expenditures.
  • 32% increased their payroll expenditures by less than the equivalent of one full-time employee.
  • 31% increased their payroll expenditures by more than the equivalent of a single full-time employee.

Finding 2: Payroll expenses were a material outflow for employer small businesses, which held fewer cash buffer days than non-employer small businesses.

  • Payroll expenses varied from a median of $11,700 per month in the Restaurant industry to a median of $36,600 per month in the High-Tech Services industry.
  • Payroll as a percentage of outflows varies substantially across industries—payroll only comprised 10% of the outflows of a typical wholesaler or retailer, but 27% of the outflows of a typical High-Tech Services firm.

Finding 3: Most employer small businesses experienced unstable payroll and employment volatility including job gains and losses and other spikes and dips in payroll.

  • 38% of small businesses experienced payroll changes that are likely more stable and small—perhaps taking on a part-time employee or changes in hours worked by employee(s).
  • 62% of small businesses experienced changes in payroll that are less stable: large spikes and/or dips in payroll (possibly paying employee bonuses or catching up on a missed payroll expense) and sustained gains and/or losses in full-time employees that increase payroll volatility.

Finding 4: The typical small employer business experienced substantial volatility in payroll outflows, and volatility was highest for younger small employer businesses.

  • Payroll volatility was substantially higher for firms less than two years old than for firms greater than two years old.

Finding 5: Small employer businesses with more volatile payroll patterns tended to have fewer cash buffer days.

  • Small businesses with dips, combined gains and losses, and both spikes and dips had the fewest cash buffer days.
  • Small employers with spikes were one exception to this rule, which may reflect businesses that pay bonuses or commissions with growing revenues.

Read more about the impact of payroll expenses on the financial stability of US small businesses here.

 

4—Small Business Insights

According to Office Depot’s Small Business Index, 49% of SMBs are confident with the direction the economy is headed. Plus, 64% of SMBs expect the U.S. economy to improve over the next six months. Half think it will be easier to get a bank loan in the next six months. Larger SMBs, with 50-99 employees are even more confident about the economy.

In the most recent Small Business Index 70% of small business owners say they didn’t use tax software when they filed their taxes in 2016. Additionally, 11% waited to file their taxes on April 15 or asked for an extension.

The survey also found 24% of the larger small businesses still use paper forms to complete their taxes compared to the 20% who report using online tax software. Office Depot politely suggests SMBs should consider updated methods such as tax software, since it can provide you with helpful directions and more ease-of-use for completing and filing, than paper forms. I won’t be as polite and say you’re wasting your time and money by not using tax software—c’mon people, it’s 2017!

There are a lot of resources and tools at Office Depot to make tax prep easier, including various brands of tax software, shredding products and services for sensitive documents, supplies for organizing paperwork and small business experts in select stores.

 

5—Why You Need to Be Your Company’s Chief Convincing Officer

Guest post by Allison Maslan, serial entrepreneur, business mentor and author of Blast Off!: The Surefire Success Plan to Launch Your Dreams Into Reality. You can watch Allison’s free video series for business owners, “The 12 Month Business Blueprint to Multiply your Profits and Simplify your Life” here.  

As the business owner, the CEO and the founder of your company, it’s easy to get distracted from what should be your main focus—your numbers, getting the word out to bring in new business and keeping your team motivated. These tasks are at the core of why you need to maintain an ongoing role as Chief Convincing Officer.

  • Keep your business revenue focused:No one is going to be as passionate and as focused on revenue as you, the CEO, especially if you’re also the founder. For this reason, your sales conversion rate is generally going to be higher than that of any other team member. If you really want to grow that bottom line for your business, you’ve got to drive sales and revenue profits by being your company’s Chief Convincing Officer.
  • Be the one who gets our team excited and motivated:You drive the excitement about where you’re taking the company, what the new initiatives are and how crucial each team member’s role is to growing the business and achieving these goals. They need to know that you can’t do it without them. They need to hear inspiring “locker-room talks” that rev them up and motivate them. Help your team stay focused on what is important.

 

6—America’s Worker are Stressed

The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America recently released Mind, Body and Wallet, the latest set of findings from the 4th Annual Guardian Workplace Benefits Study. The research shows anxiety over personal finances is the leading cause of emotional stress and contributes to lower physical wellness. And while the study shows many working Americans are dealing with financial and emotional trouble, single working parents and Generation X are feeling particularly vulnerable since two in five are struggling to keep up with expenses and save for retirement.

The study’s Workforce Well-being Index identifies financial wellness as the most significant driver of overall well-being and highlights how progress toward financial goals has declined in the past two years. Most workers cite money as their primary source of stress, indicating they’re struggling with saving for retirement and college education, managing debt and protecting their families in the event of death, serious illness or injury.

The new Guardian research also reveals the following:

  • 25% of workers have no life insurance at all; the same is true of single working parents. Among those with life insurance, two in five believe they need more coverage, especially those who are married with children.
  • 33% of employees (and half of Millennials) have no disability insurance at all. Three in five workers say they could not live off their savings for more than six months if they became ill or injured.
  • 20% of workers (and 33% of single parents) have no retirement plan. Only two in five workers feel they’re making good progress toward their retirement goals.

Mind, Body, and Wallet finds that more companies are attempting to improve their employees’ well-being through a variety of initiatives, such as offering supplemental health insurance, and health and wellness activities. Yet, while 52% of working Americans say they have access to wellness programs through their employers, only 25% have participated in any of the activities offered. More effective communication and promotion of health and wellness programs, and insurance products available at the workplace would likely lead to greater awareness and participation.

Benefits programs that can help improve workforce well-being include:

  • Financial wellness:Voluntary insurance products to fill financial protection gaps, including life, disability and supplemental health insurance; retirement savings plans; and college tuition/loan payment programs.
  • Emotional wellness:Employee Assistance Programs for counseling with anxiety, substance abuse and relationship issues; work-life balance benefits like telecommuting, flexible schedule, and paid family leave.
  • Physical wellness:Biometric screenings, health risk assessments, on-site medical centers, gym discounts, wearables to track fitness, and incentives for nutrition and preventive care.

Guardian’s Financial Confidence Quiz is available to help working Americans gauge their current financial confidence and identify practical steps for improvement.

 

Cool Tools

 

7—Turning Your Mobile Phone into an Office Phone

So many of us use our mobile phones as our business phones. The problem is, by the time we’re ready head out to lunch or a meeting, the phone’s battery is at 20%. Invoxia, a developer of speakers and telephony products, solves that problem with the NVX 200, which that lets you dock, charge and still use your cell phone hands-free? The NVX 200 is an innovative docking station enabling users to harness the functionality of smartphones through the convenience of an office desk phone while also offering advanced conference call and audio capabilities.

The NVX 200 requires no special set up and can be paired via Bluetooth or through the docking station, which is compatible with all iPhones and iPads, as well as any device using a micro USB connector (including Android, Windows, and Blackberry devices). It supports all telephony and video chat apps including Skype, Facebook, WhatsApp and FaceTime.

Its available for $249 at on the Invoxia site and on Amazon.

Livestyle_NVX200_desk_android_EN

 

8—Enhance Your Workspace

We all know that an appealing and productive environment is important to all small businesses. If you want to create a workspace where employees can “create, collaborate, and connect” check out these Glassboards from Clarus.

Clarus Glassboards offers products that are customizable, including glass walls, conference rooms, and lobby applications. The largest manufacturer of dry-erase glass systems in the country, Clarus’ versatile design allows it to double as a wall hanging, a reception entrance, or an art piece using a hybrid Glassboard and sound panel installation.

 

clarus

 

9—Digital “Chalkboards”

Marqii has introduced a mobile business platform that uses location data to make direct-to-consumer advertising of specials and promotions affordable and available to local establishments.

Avi Goren Marqii CEO and cofounder explains, “Marqii is the digital upgrade and compliment to the marquee/chalkboard street sign for local businesses to promote daily specials & happy hours. Local bars, restaurants and other businesses generally can’t afford conventional advertising in newspapers, TV or radio. Marqii gives businesses the power to reach their neighborhood mobile traffic, increase foot traffic and provide real-time incentives.”

For $2-$4 a day, Marqii will deliver marketing messages to potential customers looking for a special. The cloud based API connects with 70+ online publishers including Facebook, Google Plus, Foursquare, CitySearch, Yahoo!, Yellow Pages etc. to showcase each special in real-time. Additionally, each establishment’s core location data such as name, address and phone number will be accurately populated on each publisher allowing cross platform consistency.

 

 

 

 

 

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